Ensemble 8

Ensemble 8

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This eponymous CD is the first album released by the British collective Ensemble 8. Recorded in August 1999 (one track was recorded live in October 1998), this disc takes the listener on an aural journey, blending sound art and new age, live electroacoustics and free improv. This music is elusive upon first hearing: a rhythm pattern here, ethereal vocals there, but not much ground to put one's feet down. After two or three listens, Ensemble 8 reveals its beauties -- Isabel Jones' vocal (treated or not) charms, the steady musical floorings (parts of "Rupak," "Solitary") cleverly contrasting with freer moments, and the blend of acoustic instrumentation (double bass, hand percussion, cello, voice) and technology (samplers, live electronics) bring a wide array of textures. On "Windows," the singer's voice is sampled in real time by three different machines treating and feeding the sound back, creating a poetic sound sculpture. Great care has been given to the qualities of sounds, their interactions, their evocations. Ensemble 8's music often retains a ghostly pop song quality that makes it pleasant and accessible. This CD is an impressive debut.

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